One-pan roast duck – just add seasonal vegetables for a great meal.

24 Jun

I first ate duck fairly late in life, probably when I was in my late 30’s.  I can’t even remember people talking about actually eating duck when I was young and my only thoughts on the subject were that they lived in the River Gardens in Derby and loved to eat stale bread.  Thinking back, my first experience of eating duck had to be as a starter in a Chinese meal when on holiday.  It must have been on holiday as that was the only time I ate in a Chinese restaurant.  There were a couple of takeaways in the small town where I lived but nowhere to actually sit and eat a meal.  My first taste was a revelation!  Eaten with Hoisin sauce, celery and onions, wrapped in a small pancake.  Heaven!  The first time I cooked duck was one Christmas.  Mum and Dad were coming for their Christmas dinner and, as with every other year, they usually stayed for a few days.  I had cooked a traditional turkey dinner for Christmas Day (although I think I had drank too much wine with the neighbours and forgot to make the gravy!).  I knew Dad loved duck so I had bought two small ducks from the butcher to eat on Boxing Day.  My intention was to make the Chinese pancake recipe, a bit adventurous as, in those days, I was a novice to cooking anything other than meat and two veg meals.  I remember the recipe saying the duck skin had to be completely dry so that it crisped up during cooking.  We had limited kitchen facilities at the time so I put the ducks, unwrapped, in the greenhouse, secured the door and left them for 24 hours.  Just to reassure my friends who live in warmer climates, this was not risky as the temperature in the greenhouse was about 2 degrees C and not an insect in sight.  I made my own pancakes and even my own Hoisin sauce and the finished meal was fantastic.  I found the recipe in a Chinese cooking book that I gave away at some point.  Isn’t it typical that since then I have never found a recipe that comes up to the same standard.  I wonder where that book is now.

Nowadays we eat duck fairly regularly.  As there are just two of us I usually buy a couple of duck breasts rather than a whole bird.  This recipe, however, uses duck legs.  I was pleasantly surprised how much meat there was on the legs I bought.  I doubt I will start replacing the breasts with legs for most of my recipes but, for this one, they were perfect.  This recipe is based on one of Janet Allen’s, a Dublin born cook who has written some fantastic cookbooks.

One-pan roast duck                      Serves 2 (easily doubled)

  • 2 duck legs, skin left on
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 small turnips, peeled and cut into small cubes (about the size of a thumb nail)
  • 4 medium potatoes (floury eg King Edwards or Maris Piper) cut into small cubes as above
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper 
  1. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan that has a lid.  Fry the duck breasts, skin side down, over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the skin is browned and going crispy.  Surround the duck with the onion and rosemary while it is browning.
  2. Add the potatoes and turnip, season and mix to coat all the vegetables in the fat.  Cover and transfer the dish to a preheated oven 180C/160Cfan/gas 5 for 75 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid and continue cooking in the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the duck skin is crispy and the vegetables are tender.  Serve with seasonal green vegetables.

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